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Microsoft Word crm-ptmt el Salvador 2009[final]. doc

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Regional Conference on Migration

 

 

29

say that the group of Latin American and Caribbean nationals as a whole – primarily Mexicans – “has 

consolidated as the main low-salary labor reserve of the US economy” (CEPAL, 2008:130) with 

significant heterogeneities in terms of labor insertion, in any case. 

In Canada, the presence of Latin American and Caribbean nationals is significant as well. 

With close to 600000 persons in 2001 (11% of the country’s total number of immigrants), Canada 

ranks third on the list of top destination countries for migration of Latin American and Caribbean 

nationals to developed countries, after the US and Spain. This movement has been linked, among 

other reasons, to the demand for specialized workers (CEPAL, 2008). The Canadian Government – 

perhaps in a more evident way than other countries – “has stimulated the entry of foreign nationals 

based on criteria related to education and labor qualification” (Liu and Kerr, 2003 quoted in CEPAL, 

2008:165), in addition to implementing specific temporary programs. 

Movement has also been constant in the Latin American and Caribbean region, particularly 

between border countries or countries that are located close to each other. However, the high number 

of migrants leaving the region continues to be the most characteristic feature of the region. In fact, 

according to estimates from early 2000, immigrants account for 1% of the regional population and 

migrants leaving the region account for 4%. While destinations of migrants have expanded and 

diversified in terms of geography – including not only the United States but also Europe, Canada, 

Japan, Australia, and Israel – Argentina, Costa Rica, and Venezuela have remained as the traditional 

destination countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the same time, other countries have 

become sending, transit, and receiving countries (CEPAL, 2008:84). 

In regard to sub-regional integration, it can be stated that movement of qualified workers and 

change of residence of citizens has become easier today (CEPAL, 2008). In fact, “an increase in 

migration has been observed in CAN, SICA, and MERCOSUR that, in general, is associated to the 

increase in female labor force participation” (CEPAL, 2008:108). However, in most cases this does 

not refer to workers from temporary migrant worker programs. 

A best practice that should be recognized regarding this matter is the Agreement on 

Residence for Nationals (Acuerdo de Residencia para Nacionales) signed by the full members of 

MERCOSUR, as well as Bolivia and Chile, in 2002. This instrument stipulates freedom of 

residence and work for citizens in all spheres of the member states, through an only citizenship 

accreditation and in the absence of criminal records. Within the employment sphere, Article 8.2 of 

the Agreement stipulates the right to engage in any activity – self-employed or employed by others 

– under the same conditions as nationals, in accordance with each country’s norms; and Article 9.3 

establishes equal treatment of foreign nationals and nationals from the receiving country in applying 

labor legislation (Pérez Vichich, 2005). 

Regarding the idea that free movement of persons would be essential to achieving a greater 

integration in the region and a safer environment for migrants, “an estimated 2.5 million irregular 

migrants would benefit from this in terms of seeking regularization” (Castillo, 2003). In other words, 

this initiative is about blurring the free trade/limited migration paradox described by Martínez and 

Stang (2005). In fact, the Agreement shows that free trade policies promoted by MERCOSUR have 

helped facilitate the movement of human capital. Nevertheless, efforts should be made to analyze if 

the increased intra-regional movement between countries that signed the Agreement has been 

followed by a proportional increase in the integration of migrants into the labor markets in destination 

countries, as well as a more stable labor insertion. 

While this document does not consider managed temporary migration, the predominance of 

less qualified workers in migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean is a fact. On one hand, 

there are those migrants who limit their movement to border regions, engaging in transient or seasonal 

agricultural activities; and on the other hand, there are those who work in cities, thus complementing 

internal migration, with construction work prevailing among men and housework among women – 

and retail commerce as a survival strategy (Pellegrino, 2003). Temporary worker programs have not 



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